Should Giants Look Beyond Eli Manning? 2018 NFL Draft Is New York’s Only Bright Spot After Lions Defeat

Look, no one wants to tank, just like no one wants to have a troublesome tooth removed. Just like no one wants to cut ties with or demote a multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

But when your team is lumbering as badly as the New York Giants, there may not be many better choices.

The Giants were horrible again under the spotlight on Monday night, falling to 0-2 against an intermittently brilliant but flawed Detroit Lions team.

Even the Detroit Free Press tempered its enthusiasm for the Lions’ 24-10 victory by noting that the Giants were “terrible,” pointing out New York’s preponderance for “stupid penalties” on both sides of the ball.

The Giants’ problems probably don’t start or end with Eli Manning, the 36-year-old quarterback who led both of those improbable Super Bowl runs in the last decade. Manning, who has never been a running quarterback, must work behind an offensive line that gave up three sacks on Monday to Ziggy Ansah alone. Although Brandon Marshall was added to the Giants’ offense this year—the Pro Bowl wide receiver had a disappointing evening against the Lions—Odell Beckham is yet to get up to full speed after an ankle sprain. The Giants have no running game to speak of. Manning is working, metaphorically, on one leg.

And yet…there is rarely room for nostalgia in the NFL, at least before a player has long since retired. Even Tom Brady is going to find that out. Manning wasn’t good on Monday despite completing 22 of 32 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception. “No part of the offense was functional,” head coach Ben McAdoo said in quotes reported by ESPN.

That includes the signal-caller. ESPN quotes an unnamed NFL executive as saying Manning’s age, coupled with his lack of protection, is beginning to count against him. “Combination of age and questionable offensive line isn’t a favorable pairing for Eli,” the executive said. “No one seems to think of their [quarterback] situation as a potential weakness. I do.”

Manning is signed through 2019, and the Giants did draft a quarterback in the spring in Davis Webb, a third-rounder out of Texas Tech. Manning, who says he wants to play into his 40s, almost certainly isn’t going anywhere while Webb develops.

But the 2018 NFL Draft looks like a special year for quarterbacks, with USC’s Sam Darnold the biggest prize for the league’s biggest loser. Behind Darnold there are other potential NFL starters waiting. Manning isn’t the problem, and a more measured option may be to use the draft to get Manning some premium-quality help on the offensive line. But the pot of gold lying at the end of the rainbow for any team willing to be truly awful this season means he may be one of the easier problems for the Giants to solve.